As Denton County’s COVID-19 active case total and death toll continue to rise, county officials are concerned that Thanksgiving gatherings could make things even worse.
Denton County Public Health announced four additional coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the countywide death toll to 142. As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 3,556 active COVID-19 cases in the county, the highest mark ever, and its not expected to get better before it gets worse. Wednesday, DCPH reported both record highs in new COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Inpatient hospital beds are currently 70% occupied in Denton County, and ICU beds are 79% occupied, according to DCPH. COVID-19 cases are taking 12.2% of all of the inpatient beds, up from 3% just five weeks ago. That number is important, because the Governor’s office has set a threshold of 15%; regions that exceed that rate may have stricter business occupancy restrictions than are currently in place.
During Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, the Court expressed concern that the upcoming holiday could lead to another surge in cases.
“Thanksgiving has me, personally, very worried about what December’s going to look like,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads, who recently recovered from COVID-19. “I would really encourage everyone to still use caution and common sense when entertaining or hosting people from outside your household.”
DCPH Director Dr. Matt Richardson said he and his family are being extra careful, “pre-quarantining,” so that they can spend Thanksgiving safely with their extended family.
“If you want to see loved ones at Thanksgiving, really limit your community exposure,” Richardson said. “We need people to be thinking about what they’re going to be doing at Thanksgiving, and do the work prior to those gatherings … The more of that we can do, the safer Thanksgiving will be.”
Richardson reiterated the public health guidance that residents should maintain 6 feet of distance between other people, wear a mask, wash your hands diligently and stay home if you’re sick.
“I would implore the public to mitigate that risk,” Richardson said. “Really limit your exposure … quarantine yourself as best you can. Otherwise, Thanksgiving will be a superspreader holiday and we’ll pay the price in December.”